By Gwen Ashley Walters | JUNE 06, 2009 | TECHNIQUE

Chiffonade is a fancy French term for a knife technique that cuts leafy green herbs and vegetables into thin shreds. It sounds way more fancy than it really is.

Basil is my favorite “leafy green” to chiffonade. I hired a gourmet home cook to demonstrate the technique.

Don’t worry, he wasn’t expensive. See the glass of rosé on the right? That was his payment.


Here’s how you do it:

1. Pull washed and dried basil leaves from the stem.

2. Stack 4 or 5 on top of each other.

3. Roll lengthwise into a tight little cigarette.

4. Grab your favorite knife, and starting at one end of the basil roll, slice into very thin slices.

Congratulations, you just made basil confetti. Use the basil as soon as you’ve shredded it. All that cutting stresses it out, and eventually it will wilt and turn blackish-brown in revolt.

Class dismissed.

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Marilyn | JUNE 06, 2009

Bravo! Teaching the proper techniques for basil = incredibly useful.

Once, a chef on the line threw a mountain of basil at me to chop, and chop fast. “How do you want it?” I said. “Chiffonade!” he yelled. The fact that I knew what he meant? One of the happiest days of my life.

chefgwen | JUNE 07, 2009

Marilyn, thank you! Kitchen culture. Fun, huh?

Gary | JUNE 07, 2009


I already knew how to chiffonade… but your instructions are wonderfully clear and straightforward.

BTW, it drives me crazy when “chefs” on the food channel speak of “julienning” basil, so I’m hoping your lesson will reach lots of people!

chefgwen | JUNE 07, 2009

Thanks, Gary. My Dad will be proud that I’m putting my Master of Education degree to good use, educating people who are already educated, ha!

Gary | JUNE 08, 2009

Don’t sell yourself short… those of us who know just a little bit are MUCH harder to teach than those who know nothing at all. You first have to knock down our self-constructed barriers to new learning (we’d much rather vegetate in the delusion that we already know all we need to know).

Peggy Bowler | JUNE 15, 2009

My husband and I started growing our own herbs in hanging pots on our townhome patio about 15 years ago. Basil was one of the first and I was so proud when I learned to chiffonade the basil a couple of years later. It makes it fun to prepare for usage. Due to health reasons I very seldom use salt but have learned the proper herbs compensates for that.

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